Mommy's Best Games, Inc. is an independent game developer founded in 2007. Our seventh game, currently in development, is Pig Eat Ball on which we started working in 2013. This is behind the scenes thoughts about game development and marketing.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

HUD and Map Transformations

As Grapple Buggy continues to mature in time for a sweet E3 publisher demo, one thing that had to change was the HUD. Originally, I tried a simple, 'futuristic' look that might be something like what the pilots of the buggy were seeing inside:

I pulled those HUD elements directly from screenshots (thus the errant graphics around them). I definitely didn't hate them, but the map in particular was too simple looking, and primarily the theme just didn't seem to perfectly fit the game in particular.

I was difficult to decide to change it but things got a boost when an intern, Justin Kaffenberger, started working on a redo of the map programming. We worked on a new, more organic design for the map layout which then required new graphics for the map and mini-map.

Once the internals of the map started changing, and looking better, I felt inspired to change the main HUD.

I found additional direction playing God of War. Its HUD was in the theme of the game, it wasn't tied to "what Kratos may be seeing". And thus, they have lots of chains, and rocks, and swords and such. I liked that idea and decided to frame all the art with high-res versions of the grappling arms, claws, and gears.

The map itself and all menus are now framed by large metal claws, with gears rotating on the sides.
The actual map reflects the game goals and landscape. Instead of strict "Metroidvania" style cells in a matrix, in which you are supposed to visit each one, now the areas are organic blobs. As you visit an area, those areas are present on your map. Your path is shown by a pulsating trail. There will likely be less backtracking in Grapple Buggy than in Metroid-style games, and it's still simple enough figuring out where to go next. Sprites for save points, level transitions, and powerups are floating on top of the map area shapes.

The graphics may still undergo some change, but so far I like the crisp new look and feel good about finally finding a strong direction for the HUD design.


VoodooChief said...

Good Luck Nathan in your sweet Publisher demo. I wish you all the best. Nice post too, yeah, i love the new look a lot.

Da Voodoochief

Anonymous said...

Shoot 1UP and Grapple Buggy Postmortems maybe? Of course when Grapple Buggy is done.

Kris said...

Seeing what the in-game character sees for a HUD is usually more effective when you're seeing from a first-person view. Being that your game is 3rd person, I like the change you've made as it should look more like it belongs with the game.

The health-bar itself could use a splash of color IMO. The rest of your game is pretty vibrant but the health bar is just a dull gray/white.

Nathan Fouts said...

Ahh.. good point Kris about the health bar. I'll think about it. Right now it's white when you have health, and it flashes red, on the portion that will be removed after you've been hurt.

Eventually that red part vanishes. But I'll think about adding a tinge to the full bar. I do like though, that the bar stands out currently, for being so different. But still, I'll try some stuff out.

Kris said...

Standing out is ideal. I'm sure you can make it stand out and look as cool as the rest of your game too.

Hanamigi said...

That map, it rapes my brain.
If you say that it works, well I believe you, I don't understand how it does but I trust you.

Gerald said...

The new design looks a lot better. The old ones could have been in any of the geometry wars copies, but they don´t fit your organic style. The new ones look like a great compromise and fit better.

Looking forward to Grapple Buggy!

Nathan Fouts said...

Sorry for the brain rape. The intricacies of the design may change.

Agreed with the GW comparison, glad you like the new stuff!

Jonathan Wheeler said...

very cool. I liked the first HUD (the cleaner, more futuristic one) a little better, but it's still looking gravy.